“I don’t want to upset him, like the white fragility thing. But then I also don’t want to avoid upsetting him because he’s a white guy.”
Ming was pondering a choice to make, about how to respond to a friend’s request that was racially inappropriate.
“Yeah, I hear ya,” I said. “But you don’t have to say it like he’s bad–you don’t want to be all attacking him, or shaming him. You could just say it like–when you did such-and-such, I had this experience.”
“Yeah,” Ming said.
“We’re supposed to be anti-racist. Not just sitting around feeling unracist, but to actually do stuff,” I said.
“Right,” Ming said. “I know!”
“So I think you should talk to him!”
“Yeah, me too. Because silence is…”
“Silence is death,” I said.
“No, I meant…supporting the status quo.”
“Silence is the language of the oppressor?” I asked.
“Well, Latin is the language of the status quo,” Ming said.
I was really impressed by this exchange. Advanced wordplay, my dear. I hugged him for a long time in the kitchen, happy to love this vibrant, brilliant person.
Later our friend was coming by, so she and Ming could go up Mt Charleston to do some cleanup with Fifth Sun. I’d made beans in the morning, and Ming and I were out in the courtyard, waiting for our friend to show up.
I was holding my friend’s serving of beans that I was giving to her without her expecting it. Gift beans. I put tahini, pepper, and garlic salt. The beans were northern beans, with a little onion and salt. I’d slightly mashed them up.
It was getting too hot for me, and I felt silly that I was outside. I guess we were excited. But I was saying goodbye to him, going inside, leaving the beans with Ming.
“Are those beans oppressing you?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said.
“Ok,” I said. “Should I bring them in with me?”
“No,” he said. “They’re impressing me. Not oppressing me.”
“Don’t spill the beans,” I said. The bowl was tipping.